Dec 16 gangrape: Centre says juvenile accused canít be tried twice

Opposing a fresh trial of an accused who was tried as a juvenile in the December 16 gangrape case, the Central government has told the Supreme Court that putting a person twice on trial for the same offence was legally and constitutionally impermissible.

Responding to a petition filed by the father of the 23-year-old woman who was gangraped aboard a moving bus on December 16, 2012, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said there was no question of a second round of trial once the guilt of the accused, who was a juvenile at time of the incident, had already been determined in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act.

"Under Article 20 of the Constitution as also Section 300 of Criminal Procedure Code, there can be no second trial for the same offence, and the adjudication of guilt of the juvenile offender having been determined by the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Board under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the second prayer does not survive nor was sustainable," the Ministry said in its affidavit.

The government also asserted that the objective of the juvenile law was to establish a separate system of justice, care and protection for children and that traditional objectives of criminal justice ó retribution and repression ó must give way to rehabilitative and restorative objectives of juvenile justice.

It also opposed the father's challenge to the constitutional validity of Act for letting juveniles escape with light punishment for heinous offences. It pointed out that the law was based on the principle of non-stigmatising semantics, decisions and actions.

The issue came up for hearing before a bench led by Justice B S Chauhan Monday, which tagged this petition with the similar plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and others, who have also sought fresh interpretation of the term juvenile.

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